A new iPhone app called Confide aims to be a Snapchat for professionals, providing encrypted, disappearing messages for off-the-record communication.
The app doesn't allow for scandalous selfies—messages are strictly text only. And to prevent screenshots, the message are revealed only a few words at a time as the user swipes a virtual wand across the text. Once the whole text is seen, the message evaporates. The app was introduced Wednesday by a team led by Yext CEO Howard Lerman and former AOL executive Jon Brod.
On the Confide blog, Brod wrote that the idea for the app came after Lerman emailed him to do a reference check on a former colleague of Brod's. He preferred not do it in writing, so that meant getting in touch via telephone.
"The phone tag went on for six days," Brod wrote. "When we finally connected, we marveled at the inefficiency of the situation, and the ultimate magnitude of it."
Confide should allow users the candidness of a phone call or coffee meeting with the convenience of email, its founders say. End-to-end encryption means that only the recipient, and not Confide's technicians, should be able to decrypt the messages.
The company suggests the app will be useful for job referrals and other HR discussions, confidential deal negotiations and what Confide refers to, perhaps optimistically, as "good-natured office gossip."
Others, including the British tabloid The Daily Mail, have suggested the app might become popular with cheating spouses looking to send messages that can't be found by their partners and perhaps seeking the plausible deniability installing a business-oriented app brings over being caught with existing tools such as Snapchat.
Whatever the content may be, revealing the message a few words at a time and displaying a Snapchat-style warning against screenshots should make it difficult for anyone to surreptitiously keep a copy without, say, shooting video from another device.
"Yesterday, the world had permanence," Brod wrote in the blog post. "Today, with Confide, professionals have an off-the-record option."